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Studying Environmental Design in Acute Care Settings: Interviews, Walk-throughs, and Transferability in the Literature

By: Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Health
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In 2010, the mother of a good friend of mine had a serious stroke. I was upset about the event but not worried: by the time my friend told me what had happened, he spoke about it with relief and optimism. The design of the hospital's rehabilitation unit, he said, made all the difference to his attitude about his mother's recovery. As a graduate student in environmental psychology, I was interested in how the hospital had helped my friend feel so positive. I knew of a study published the previous year that stated specific design recommendations for affording staff efficiency (and reducing error) in acute care units (i.e., noise; lighting; ergonomics, furniture and equipment; and patient room design and unit layout). Because the hospital my friend's mother had been treated in had recently been renovated, I wondered whether these design variables outlined to be so important in the work by Chaudhury, Mahmood, and Valente had been considered. In my study, I took a close look at Chaudhury et al.'s article in order to assess whether any or all of its design recommendations for acute care settings had been implemented in the Neurological Rehabilitation Unit at Victoria General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada. Using informal data provided by my friend about his perceptions of the setting, as well as guided site walk-through, photographs, and an interview with the manager of the unit, I interpreted the extent to which the design of the unit at Victoria General Hospital mirrored elements encouraged by Chaudhury et al.

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